Over the past half-dozen years, an increasing number of filmmakers have taken the route of self-distribution to bring their films to moviegoing audiences. While self-distribution was long seen as a last-resort by first-time filmmakers who could not snag a deal with established distributors, many well-known filmmakers including Larry Fessenden, Arthur Dong, Bill Plympton and Penelope Spheeris have successfully added the title of “distributor” to the various credits they already carry.

Ted Bonnitt opted for self-distribution for his documentary Mau Mau Sex Sex, a jolly tribute to veteran B-Movie filmmakers David Friedman and Dan Sonney and the vintage shock cinema productions they created from the 1940s through the early 1970s. Packed with salacious clips from the duo’s most notorious features plus good-humored humors with the elder kings of exploitation (the New York Times dubbed them “The Sunshine Boys of Smut”), Mau Mau Sex Sex premiered in New York last year and has since toured the U.S. and is now on its way across Canada and Germany.

In handling self-distribution, Bonnitt had three major obstacles to overcome. First, the subject of his film (with its campy collection of sequences from old-time exploitation films that played in “adults only” theaters roughly a half-century ago) wasn’t exactly viewed as mainstream fare for today’s more sophisticated and cynical audiences. Second, the film was produced on video and Bonnitt was not eager to spend considerable sums to have it transferred to 35mm–yet many theaters are not equipped with video projection and do not wish to pay high leasing fees for the temporary use of this equipment. Third, and obviously least expectedly, Bonnitt found the bulk of his pre-booked distribution tour coming in the wake of the September 11 tragedies. At a time when the major studios were frantically re-arranging their releases in uncertain reaction to a grieving country, Bonnitt was faced with the challenge of whether audiences were in the mood for a documentary on vintage smut flicks.

Film Threat caught up Bonnitt in his Los Angeles studio to discuss how he successfully brought Mau Mau Sex Sex across the U.S. — and how he quietly made history by incorporating a low-cost home entertainment tool into his distribution strategy…

Get the interview in part two of HAVE SMUT, WILL TRAVEL: A TED BONNITT INTERVIEW>>>

Posted on September 26, 2002 in Interviews by

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